Encouraging Ownership

One sentiment that has led to unhelpful division between leadership and followership is to believe that leaders are the ones who have (and sell) the vision, while followers are the ones who work to fulfill it.

When the organization’s leadership is setup as the only ones through whom vision can flow (I was part of one such organization), there is an inherent disempowering of followers, and an implicit message that vision–and thus the ultimate driving force behind any endeavor–is the purview of the leaders alone. Continue reading “Encouraging Ownership”

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No Ambition for Position

As 2016 closes out, it’s a common consideration to look ahead at 2017 and to think about plans, desires, and dreams for what next year will bring. Opportunities, changes, achievements…the clean slate of a new year seems to welcome them all.

“New Year’s Resolutions” are part and parcel of this season as well. What commitments will we make in order to best position ourselves to take advantage of the possibilities for the new calendar year? How will we motivate ourselves to be what we know we can be and do what we hope we can do? Continue reading “No Ambition for Position”

Person of Integrity?

As an author, perhaps it’s appropriate that I like written communication. Texting, more so than phone calls, is comfortable to me. And although my work necessitates me spending several hours a week on the phone or Skype, it’s still email that carries the bulk of my interaction with others.

Perhaps that’s why I have 11 email addresses! Continue reading “Person of Integrity?”

Followership: Object or Identity?

I remember when my wife was diagnosed with coeliac disease. There was a little bit of a struggle to figure out how we would talk about it. Should she say, “I have coeliac disease” or instead, “I am coeliac”? (see my reflection here)

The basic question that was tugging at us was whether this is an object (something she may either possess or dispose of) or rather an aspect of identity, something that should be adopted and acknowledged as an essential or significant aspect of her personhood.

My own journey in followership raised a similar question. Continue reading “Followership: Object or Identity?”

What does the world need?

If you’re at all enticed by the idea of following with excellence–of truly participating, making your unique contributions, co-laboring with others to achieve a common purpose–then you may have asked yourself a series of questions.

What should I do? How should I engage? What endeavors should I participate in? If I want an environment in which I can follow well, which organization, association, club, or business should I join?

In a moment of altruism, you may even ask yourself, “What does the world need?” What do I have that could be of benefit to others? Continue reading “What does the world need?”

“We follow to find out.”

In the current theatrical release of the film Risen, a Roman soldier asks the disciples of Jesus of Nazareth—after His death and the discovery of the empty tomb—if the answer to what’s going on lies to the north, in Galilee.

Peter, the de facto spokesman for the disciples, replies, “We are followers. We follow to find out.”

Having studied a number of historical examples of followership (including various biblical figures), there is a subtle profundity in Peter’s response. Continue reading ““We follow to find out.””

Excerpt: ‘In Group’ Followership

Having spent a little time in Japan, one concept that I’ve learned about is the sense of there being an ‘in group’ and an ‘out group’. There are people with whom you are connected–by commonality, experience, relationship–and there is everybody else.

Without a strong notion of association as a member of a particular ‘in group’, we are almost certainly condemned to struggle in our followership. If we view ourselves as separate, outside, or different from the group, we will be hard-pressed to fully participate and relate–and thus unleash our very best contributions.

I share this thought in Chapter 20 (titled “Association”) of Embracing Followership: Continue reading “Excerpt: ‘In Group’ Followership”

Urgency vs. Ownership

What motivates you to action? What prompts you to get involved, to put forth the effort, to spend the sweat to get a task accomplished?

I recently came across a video that was seeking to move people by developing a sense of urgency for the task at hand. The narrator quotes Harvard Professor John P. Kotter, author of What Leaders Really Do, saying “infecting others with a sense of urgency is the difference between effective and ineffective leadership.” (Kotter also wrote an entire book entitled A Sense of Urgency.)

This statement made me pause. Can you see some of the very strong assumptions underlying this assertion? Continue reading “Urgency vs. Ownership”

Yes or No?

How do you decide whether you should or shouldn’t do something? Apart from moral, legal, and ethical issues–when an opportunity comes up, how do you decide whether or not to do it?

This past week was a busy one for me. Leading up to having the final proof of Embracing Followership sent off to the printer on Friday meant that I needed to read through the entire book, twice. At 228 pages each time, that’s a lot of reading for me, and I read slowly.

How did I find the time to do so? I had to say no to other things that came up, things that may have been good and enjoyable, but which couldn’t take priority. Continue reading “Yes or No?”

Excerpt: Participate!

This is the grand debut! This blog post contains the first ever release of an excerpt from my forthcoming book, Embracing Followership!

Much of my experience of growing in followership has been two-fold: adopting a right perspective–about myself, my circumstances, my leader, and my peers–and then also adopting right behaviors–in the way I communicate, the activities I engage in, and the habits I form.

I blogged recently about the core truth that we all have something to contribute (see A Necessary Contribution). The truth that we each have something unique and valuable to bring to an organization is one such right perspective that we will each benefit from adopting. But, there is also a consequent action that should accompany this right thinking. Continue reading “Excerpt: Participate!”